UNCTAD spoke to Alvin Mosioma, who is leading the process by which civil society organizations seek to influence the intergovernmental deliberations at UNCTAD 14.
Alvin Mosioma, Executive Director of the well-known non-governmental organization Tax Justice Network in Africa, is leading the process by which civil society organizations seek to influence the intergovernmental deliberations at UNCTAD 14 and in outlining UNCTAD's programme of work in the future. This means that issues close to citizens are given a voice at the highest levels.
Q: Tax Justice Network-Africa is the "host civil society organization" for UNCTAD 14 -- what does this mean?
A: We were responsible for three things: mobilization of civil society organizations at the local, Kenyan level; working with African civil society organizations through what we call the Africa Working Group, which came up with a position [on the negotiations toward the outcome document of the conference, a new, four-year UNCTAD mandate] including African perspectives on this agenda and what we expect from UNCTAD; and finally coordinating the international steering group which led the process of developing the Civil Society Declaration [an official response to the mandate].
Q: Tell me about Tax Justice Network-Africa: what are its aims?
A: We are a pan-African organization -- heading for its tenth anniversary in 2017 -- with members spreading across 16 African countries. As our name suggests we work on taxation, exploring the link between tax and development. How do we ensure that African governments are putting in place the mechanisms, policies and legislation necessary to mobilize domestic resources to finance economic development?
This of course links to UNCTAD 14's theme -- "From decisions to actions" -- a centerpiece of that is "Where is the money going to come from that will ensure those actions are implemented?"
Q: How are these aims furthered by Tax Justice Network-Africa's relationship with UNCTAD 14?
A: If you look at some of UNCTAD's work on, for example, trade mispricing, it is clear that taxation and domestic resource mobilization are and should be part of UNCTAD's core mandate. We work not only for "pro-poor" tax policies but also for measures that support domestic resource mobilization. We recognize that the current global system is undermining these efforts.
Q: What are your hopes for the outcome of UNCTAD 14?
A: From Tax Justice Network's perspective, we want to ensure that part of UNCTAD's work programme for the next four years will strongly focus on matters of taxation and illicit financial flows, and providing policy solutions and recommendations supporting developing countries' efforts to tackle these problems.
But more broadly, civil society asks: how do we help ensure that the mandate that UNCTAD was first given, more than 50 years ago, will be reaffirmed?
I've been to four UNCTAD ministerial conferences and we realize that the issues of the mandate keep coming up and that the rich countries, specifically, are constantly out to weaken that mandate and to ensure that UNCTAD is limited to the implementation of agreements and not going beyond that. This is something we hope the outcome document will strongly speak to.